The cause du jour for the Republican Party is to make as many rapid-fire comparisons between the Democrats and the Nazis as humanly possible. There're the posters altered to make the President look like Hitler, Glenn Beck's use of Nazi imagery, and the GOP's tendency to parade around pliant Holocaust survivors, who are willing to lie and convince hapless boobs that they're seconds away from being loaded onto the trains headed to New Auschwitz, located -- somewhere -- probably in those FEMA camps Beck has been trying to warn us about.
Crazy, crazy stuff. Insulting and dangerous, too. Such propaganda is insulting to Holocaust survivors, some of whom are rightfully upset by the Obama-Hitler contrasting. "I saw Hitler's soldiers. I saw swastikas every day. To call Obama stupid, even criminal -- OK, that's politics. But Hitler? It's hurting to anyone no matter who is president," a Holocaust survivor told Times of the Internet.
Beyond being insulting, the comparisons are also dangerous. The Washington Independent's David Wiegel reports on this rising fear of fascism as demonstrated at the "How to Take Back America" conference in St. Louis that took place this past weekend. I highly recommend taking the whole bizarre journey yourself, but here are a few choice nuggets to wet your appetite for lunacy.
The article's protagonist is Kitty Werthmann, an 84-year-old native Austrian survivor of the Third Reich. Kitty was one of the keynote speakers at the conference.
"What would you suggest we do," asked one activist, "if we are asked to give up our guns?"
"Don't you dare give up your guns!" thundered Werthmann. "Never, never, never!"
"Give them back one bullet at a time!" called out another activist. The tense atmosphere melted a little bit; the room broke up with laughter.
Call the doctor. You see, Republicans are always very quick to say that liberals also altered posters of former President Bush to look like Hitler, and that liberals also drew comparisons between the Republicans and Nazis. Except, liberals were also called treasonous and threatened with arrest for doing harmless things like showing up to Bush's speeches dressed in anti-war t-shirts, or sporting anti-war bumper stickers on their cars. There were many of these kinds of stories. Meanwhile, those who show up to President Obama's rallies with loaded guns are called patriots.
For eight years, liberals protested the tyrannical actions of the Bush administration with relative restraint. I would actually argue that they did so with too much restraint. Liberals could have been more passionate and more organized. They could have walked out of school, and their jobs, and not come back until the wars ended. But they didn't. It has been said that organizing liberals is a bit like herding cats. The Democratic Party is an all-inclusive organization, which is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it leads to in fighting between the various factions and distracts from the ultimate goal.
Republicans have never had this problem. They're unified under the banner of beating "them," and the "them" this time around is President Obama. The media has criticized the tea bagger protests for being disorganized and scattered-brained, and while there are certainly a wide range of causes represented at these things, they all fall under the parent concern that Obama is a dangerous other, who wants to change America, and he must be stopped.
Back at the "How to Take Back America" conference, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who gave the conference's opening speech said:
If you look at the classic model for moving to Marxism, you look at what every Marxist organization has done, they nationalize. They redistribute wealth. They restrict gun ownership. They then go out and suppress the opposition. And then, finally, they censor the media.
So we're actually dealing with Nazi Marxists, the rarest of beasts. Nevermind that Hitler actually hated Marxism and Communism because, coincidentally, he feared them -- those Jews who came up with the whole Marxist angle.
Stoking this irrational hatred for an amorphous enemy, the Marxist Communist Socialist Nazi President Obama, in an already frenzied, heavily armed mob, is obviously not a good thing. First, it eliminates the possibility of rational conversation about some critical issues like health care and the environment. Second, it's extremely dangerous and irresponsible. If people like Kitty and Beck keep telling people Obama wants to take their guns, and he's Hitler, and he's changing America, and also there may be FEMA camps, and his health care plan is actually death panels, one of their unstable listeners is going to snap.
Of course, then Kitty and Beck will hide behind the same First Amendment rights many Republicans didn't grant liberals when they tried to protest Bush's illegal wars. This is the current state of things: Republicans protest health care for all. Democrats protest illegal wars. C'est la vie.
Follow Allison Kilkenny on Twitter: www.twitter.com/allisonkilkenny